Cats are one of the first choices of pets for many pet lovers out there because they are stress-busters, earnest guardians, and are also less quiet easy to look after. Moreover, they are too cute to resist petting. However, not all cats are meant for indoor. Few cats are dangerous to be pet at the house. They are feral cats or otherwise known as non-socialized cats.
These are the ones that grew mainly in the streets, finding their shelter irrespective of the safety and feeding on anything and everything they think of as food, unaware of if it’s good or not. These stray cats tend to be a little wild, as they are subjected to various hurdles and have to battle with too many foes.
So, petting a feral cat involves lots of guts, patience, time, resources, and so on. If you think that you are not a person who is ready to do all these for your cat, then you are not eligible to pet a feral cat. Yes, you heard it right. It doesn’t mean no one can pet a wild cat at all. You can bring a feral cat inside and grow it.
However, it stills takes many efforts to make it familiar to an enclosed environment, as they used to roam in the streets freely and wildly and have probably never encountered a human’s warmth. In contrast, those tiny cats try to eat or roam near their place. But remember, the cats you find in the streets are not always wholly stray cats who explore the roads right from their birth.
You can also find cats that might have grown under the roof of a cozy home with good food and proper care but were left abandoned in the streets at a point, or they might have eloped from their home because of inevitable unhappiness or might have even lost the way to their home someday. In such cases, it would be easy to pet and train them to the comfort of the house and get used to socializing with humans.
How to differentiate between a stray cat and a wild cat?
To pet a cat from the streets, you must first know how to differentiate between a stray cat or a feral cat.
So, here are few ways to distinguish between a stray cat and a wild cat.
Differences to Notice in cats
|The way of mingling with humans||Stray cats like to mingle. So they try to come near humans and the vehicles, garages, and even the garden area or lawn.||They are usually allergic to humans and always try to isolate themselves. They will also show defensive actions like loud meows or growling while you try to go near them.|
|The way of mingling with the fellow cats||Stray cats are reserved while being with a group of cats. They will often prefer to roam alone.||They love being around the fellow feral cats and will be happy and excited to spend time with them.|
|Bodily behaviors||Stray cats are likely to show fondness and friendliness by having their tail up while walking. They usually walk in a normal quadruped posture. These felines will also like to make eye contact with humans without any fear.||Feral cats will hardly walk in a proper posture. They usually try to keep their body low and near to the ground in the form of crouching or crawling. It acts as a defensive position against their foes and other dangers. They will neither mind humans nor make eye contact.|
|Vocals||The stray cats will definitely make some sounds in response to your calls or actions like meowing or purring.||The feral cats are very silent, especially around humans. So, they hardly meow or purr or growl. Instead, they will be mute to anything and everything most of the time.|
|When can you find them in the streets?||The stray cats usually prefer the bright hours of the day. Hence, you can mostly found them roaming during the daytime than the nighttime.||These cats are fonder of dark and thus are nocturnal. So it is quite unusual to find them in the streets during the nighttime. They hunt their prey and eat during the night and will doze off peacefully in a safe place throughout the daytime.|
What should you keep in mind when deciding whether it is a stray cat or a wild cat?
Apart from the aforementioned things, there are some of the basic things one needs to keep in mind while understanding the differences between stray and wild cats. The feral cats are usually the cleanest ones. They maintain their hygiene, and their coat will often be shiny and healthy.
The male feral cats can be easily identified with certain features, including a large head, well-built body, and few scar marks. Their coats might be spiky due to the high testosterone level. Their tail might be greasy and stud with or without bumps at its base, all due to a healthy hormone secretion level.
Additionally, most of the feral cats will have an ear tip as most of them are neutered. But stray cats are those untidy kittens with an unhealthy and improperly maintained coat and might also have some skin disorders. Also, they won’t be having an ear tip.
It is quite challenging to find a pregnant stray cat in the streets, as the domestic cats will either be neutered or given necessary care at home while carrying baby kittens. It is widespread to find pregnant feral cats in the streets as they are unlikely to get neutered.
By considering all these, you can decide by yourself whether you want to adopt a cat from the streets or not. And even if you feel tempted to adopt on seeing the cute face of a cat you encounter quite often in your locality, make sure to cross-check with these to arrive at a safe decision for you as well as the cat.
What behavior can you observe in stray cats and feral cats?
When you have finally decided to adopt a cat from the streets, there are few things to be done to maintain it well and make it a proper domestic cat.
Here is a table that describes the behavior patterns in the cats.
Behavior Pattern to notice
|Response to touch||You can very well touch stray cats, as they are used to it. They will even tolerate it if you try to groom them with an object and also like it.||It is challenging to touch a feral cat as they are scared of humans and are very defensive to human touch. So, they might attempt to attack you if you try to touch them.|
|Behavior when kept inside the cage||The stray cats won’t be much afraid of the cage and will dare to come near the cage bars to seek attention or food. They will also play with the cage bars without any fear.||The feral cats get pissed off when caged as they are used to roaming freely and thus would get frightened and prefer to stay in the corner of the cage to protect themselves. But when given any threatening stimulus, they will start to behave agitated. They will bang the cage to get freed.|
|Relaxation||They are usually cool and pamper themselves with good sleep and self-grooming to relax.||They are usually restless and seem to be tensed and in a defensive state continuously. So, they hardly get relaxed.|
|Response to People, food, and objects||They enjoy toys and play areas and usually try to touch and play with them. They show a sign of enthusiasm while seeing food pockets, especially when you are trying to open them in front of cats. They might even salivate.||They don’t even mind anything, no matter however attractive and good it is. You cannot entice the wild cats by giving them food as they will mostly ignore the humans and anything given by humans. It will adversely only show agitation when you attempt to go near them or provide them anything.|
|Fright and flight reactions||They will make sounds like hissing, growling, or meowing loudly when in fear.
|They will become wholly agitated and show aggressiveness in response to a fearful stimulus noted in their dilated eyeballs and ear backs.|
How can you help the feral cat adapt to homes?
Master the art of patience
While trying to make a feral cat into a domestic one, you have to keep a lot of patience because you are dealing with a cat that has spent most of the days in the streets, roaming carefree and eating in varieties. Living without restrictions and get used to people or closed environments is difficult for stray cats. So, take baby steps and have hope throughout the process.
Provide it with a cozy room
The living place matters a lot for cats. Once they like the site they are in, their pheromones get stimulated automatically, which they will reflect by scratching and kneading. Make sure you allocate them a comfortable and quiet place for sleeping. Provide some toys in the room for them to play & keep the food bowl and water bowl in a reachable place. Also, make sure you keep a constant eye either by talking with them, or while talking on a phone, or at least by reading something aloud when you are around your cat.
Food is a way to the heart
Not only do humans love food, but animals are also fond of it. You can win the heart of your new inmate by providing good food at the right time without letting them starve. It is one of the easiest and quickest ways to win the trust of your pet cat.
Pamper your pet
Physical contact with your pet is essential to make it familiar with you and keep it calm in your company. Touch its coat, groom it, teach it to groom itself, reward it with its favorite food while it follows your instructions. John Paul Lavender Mint Spray is a product that you can use while grooming. They give moisture to the body and helps in building a cleanliness routine for cats.
Teach good behaviors
Train your cat to eat and drink water in its respective food and water bowls alone. The other important habit is using a litter box. You must definitely train your new pet to use its litter box properly, as it plays a major role in maintaining the health of the cat and the housemates.
Do visit a vet
Finally, whether it’s a stray cat or a feral cat, the chances of having diseases or any physical ailments are relatively high. So, as soon as you decide to adopt a cat from the streets, take it to a veterinarian and get it checked thoroughly and start treating its ailments properly, if any. Also, avoid petting it inside the home if it has any serious illness.
In a world with people who prefer branded products only and love an animal of an exclusive and high standard breed only to adopt, having the heart to adopt an animal from the street is an excellent gesture. So, if you are planning to adopt a feral cat, consider all the factors before going for it.
Have a happy petting.